Grants to help charitable groups’ projects

Two area nonprofits-one that provides free primary care services and one that teaches healthy lifestyles to students-will benefit from grants recently awarded by the Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund.

Among the 28 nonprofit organizations receiving $326,800 are the Washington County Free Clinic and Hunger Solutions Mid-Ohio Valley.

The Washington County Free Clinic, which was awarded a $20,000 grant for general operational costs, provides much needed primary care service to area residents who would otherwise have no access to health care, said Robin Bozian, president of the clinic’s board of directors.

“This is a place where people can come every three to four months to have their medications looked at, have blood work done, blood pressure taken,” she said.

Open for appointments two days a month, the clinic currently has a roster of around 400 patients with about 200 active at any given time, said Bozian.

Consisting of a volunteer staff of nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners and students from Marietta College’s Physicians Assistant program and Washington State Community College’s nursing program, the only paid position at the clinic is a part-time clinic manager, said Bozian.

Additionally, the building, with four exam rooms, is provided free of cost by Marietta College, she said.

The main expense in its approximately $53,000 annual budget is supplies, she added.

The clinic was formed around four years ago. Its initial funding also came from a Sisters of St. Joseph grant, she said.

“They gave us the start-up money to get ourselves started, get certified,” she said.

The continued support from the organization supplements funding through other organizations, such as the United Way, said Bozian.

The recently developed Hunger Solutions Mid-Ohio Valley was also selected to receive $17,000 in grant funding.

Formed by Peoples Bank, the Memorial Health System and Marietta College, the task force works to stock local food pantries, improve food bank’s purchasing power, and educate the community about healthy eating choices, said Marietta College’s director of civic engagement Maribeth Saleem-Tanner.

The grant will specifically help expand Hunger Solution’s Live Healthy Kids program, which teaches healthy lifestyle choices and eating habits to area second-graders.

Marietta College students are trained as food educators and then go into the classrooms teaching a weekly one-hour course on healthy eating habits, said Saleem-Tanner.

“There is also a cooking component. So students not only get to learn about what foods are good for them, and vitamins, and being active, but they actually get to experience new foods and get to be a part of preparing them,” she said.

First introduced to 10 Marietta City Schools classrooms during the last school year, the program will be doubled to 20 classrooms when it starts in January.

Second-graders at Warren, Little Hocking, Barlow-Vincent, St. Marys, and Williamstown elementaries will be added to the program.

The program initially costs around $12,000 to get started and sustaining and expanding it will cost an estimated $20,000 this year, said DeeAnn Gehlauf, vice president of business and organization development for the Memorial Health System.

The funding helps provide stipends for the food educators and paid to set up mobile kitchens in all of the classrooms, said Saleem-Tanner.

The idea is to teach children nutritional facts they will want to carry home, said Saleem-Tanner.

“We want to flip the dynamic and engage kids to be the ones promoting healthy lifestyles in their family,” she said.

Also awarded smaller grants from the fund were the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, which received $3,000, and Caring Connection in Marietta, which received $4,000.